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Statement on the Executions


Today, three death row inmates, two in the Osaka Detention Center and one in the Tokyo Detention Center, were executed.


This is the third time that executions have been conducted since Mr. Eisuke Mori assumed the office of Minister of Justice in September 2008 and the second time that executions have been performed during 2009 after the first executions carried out on January 29.


The Japanese death penalty system and its operational problems have drawn the attention of the international community. Despite the current international trend to abolish the death penalty, there has been an increase in death sentences and executions in Japan. The international community has been expressing its deep concern about this situation in Japan. On October 30, 2008, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee made many recommendations for fundamental reform of the death penalty system in Japan.


In Japan, discussions of the death penalty are more active than ever because Japanese citizens will be involved in decisions of capital punishment under the Saiban-in (lay judge) system implemented this May. In addition, an innocent man was sentenced to life imprisonment due to DNA test results that were less accurate (i.e., Ashikaga incident), and in a different case, the defendant, who was sentenced to death based on DNA test results that were also less accurate, was executed on October 28, 2008 (i.e., Iizuka incident).


Now is the time to sincerely accept the aforementioned recommendations of the UN Human Rights Committee, discuss broadly the death penalty system and its operation based on sufficient materials and information, examine the problems inherent in the death penalty system from various perspectives, and seek appropriate direction for its reform. As the first step, the Government of Japan should suspend executions.


The JFBA deeply deplores today’s executions. We hereby reiterate our strong request that the Government of Japan introduce a moratorium on executions for a certain period of time until the following have been completed: (1) a thorough review of the death penalty system and careful consideration of whether to retain or abolish the system and (2) implementation of the necessary reforms.


July 28, 2009
Makoto Miyazaki
Japan Federation of Bar Associations


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